Do Blackberry, Nokia and Motorola stand a chance in the smartphone wars? The three cellphone manufacturers used to dominate the space where Apple and Samsung now reign supreme but saw their sales decline in recent years. However, it looks like the three companies won’t be leaving the battle arena without putting up a good fight. Here’s what you can expect from the former top names in cellphones:
Those rooting for a RIM comeback were probably ecstatic after CEO Thorsten Heins announced that the new BlackBerry 10 OS and new L-series full touchscreen BlackBerry handsets will finally launch on January 30, 2013. It would have been great to see a BB10 launch before the holiday season, but a set launch date is better than nothing especially since analysts have been predicting a March or — in the case of handsets with physical keyboards – June 2013 launch. BlackBerry phones have been relegated to the shadows after competitors Apple and Samsung grabbed top spots in the smartphone market. BlackBerry was also threatened by added competition with the arrival of Windows 8 handsets just before the holidays. The biggest blow, it seems, was when several government agencies ditched BB business phones (i.e. RingCentral) for iPhones.
It’s understandable why the market has become quite forgetful and doubtful of RIM. BlackBerry acquired QNX software, where BB10 is based on, last April 2010. A year later, it launched the BlackBerry Playbook, but it took the Canadian company almost two years before QNX came to BB handsets.
BlackBerry now seems on a roll with good news. The new intuitive Flow UI and predictive keyboard on the BB10 are tempting features for any smartphone user. After the announcement of the BB10 launch date, BB10 handsets also got security clearance for government use. This marked the first time that a BlackBerry product got FIPS certified before launch. Shares have also rebounded, rallying to nearly 70 percent in the past three months after falling to a nine-year low last summer. With the new BB 10 smartphones, we can hope that 2013 will be a turnaround year for RIM.
Long timecellphone manufacturer and innovator Motorola Mobility made headlines after Google announced that it had purchased the cellphone giant last May 2012. The acquisition must have been welcome news for Android supporters who are looking forward to added competition in the smartphone arena. Motorola is known for being committed to Android, betting on the OS very early on in the game.
Unfortunately, a Google-inspired Motorola phone will have to take a longer time in the making. Just like BlackBerry devotees, Moto fans must have been wondering when Google will release a new slew of Motorola devices. The RAZR HD and RAZR M phones that were released last October still shipped with Android Ice Cream Sandwich instead of the latest Android Jelly Bean. It was only this December that Jelly Bean was rolled out to the RAZR HD and the RAZR M. Google says that Motorola has a 12-18 product cycle, so we can expect the first true Motorola Google phones around May or so in 2013. Says Google Chief Financial Officer Patrick Pichette:
Look, we’re really pleased with Motorola’s progress in its first 150 days. As indicated in our public filings, our team has made a lot of operational changes, we harmonized and narrowed the product portfolio, [undertook] streamlining of software operations, and we scaled back the markets in which we operate. But that said, we’re just at the beginning of the Motorola-Google story, and we should expect, as I mentioned before, results from this segment to be quite variable for quite a while yet.
Remember that we inherited an entire product pipeline where hardware business cycles are typically 12 to 18 months.
Will it be a Moto-Google world come mid-2013? Stay tuned.
Nokia aficionados finally got their holiday wishes when the Finnish company released their flagship Windows 8 phones. During its first 20 days on the market, the Nokia Lumia 920 exceeded expectations with 2.9 million units ordered worldwide. You can say that Nokia Lumia 920 is doing tremendously well if you compare it to Q4 211 sales of 2.9 million units for the full range of Lumia devices. In the US last November, the Nokia Lumia 920 held top two spots on Amazon for AT&T phones with two-year plans. The black and blue versions, meanwhile, held the 5th and 6th spots for all cellphones sold with contracts.
On the Expansys UK charts, the Nokia Lumia 920 bested the HTC Windows Phone 8X, holding number one spot for all electronics. This is significant, because as BGR notes, the web shop is usually slanted towards HTC models. Aside from this, the Lumia actually costs more than the HTC phone. The Nokia Lumia 920 phones were sold out in several countries and carriers, but some reports say that this could also be due to short supplies.
After a solid launch and sales, Nokia shares rallied to 30 percent last November. However, it still remains to be seen if Nokia can follow-through and sustain the market’s interest. This December, Nokia partnered with China Mobile to launch its new Nokia Lumia 920T. With 700 million subscribers, China Mobile is the biggest operator in the world and will hopefully be instrumental in jacking up Nokia sales.
For 2013, it seems that Nokia is still all set to target the low-end to mid-range market who can’t afford pricey iPhones or high-end Galaxy phones. Digitimes sources say that Nokia will continue production of Windows Phones running Windows Phone 7.5 OS. Later on, Nokia may also ditch Windows 7.5 and choose an alternative platform to continue capturing emerging markets. Meanwhile, The Verge reports that you can expect more mid-range and low-end Nokia Windows 8 phones in early 2013. One of this is reportedly called “Zeal”, which will sport a 4.3-inch display, 512MB of RAM, 8GB internal storage, 1GHz dual-core processor, and a microSD card slot.
It will be exciting to see how 2013 will pan out for BlackBerry, Motorola, and Nokia. Let’s hope that they’ll be able to pump up the competition and give Samsung and Apple a run for their money.